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Baker’s secret: This cake is vegan, gluten-free

It’s the dawn of a new age of cake.

Now, even traditional bakers need a really, really good vegan/gluten-free cake recipe in their offerings because “you never know.”

You never know when your child will bring home a vegan significant other, when someone in your book club changes his or her diet, or, really, if Santa is all that fond of cookies.

I first made this recipe as cupcakes, but they didn’t work. They tasted fine, like fudgy chocolate, but you had to dig them out of the cupcake papers with a spoon.

But as one-bowl cake that makes two layers, this is not naughty, but rather nice.

Vegan Devil’s Food Layer Cake with Coffee Coconut Buttercream

You’d never know this moist, easy, chocolate cake was vegan just by tasting it. The Coffee Coconut Buttercream is equally fabulous. It doesn’t taste like coconut at all - just rich and creamy. (Just remember to chill the can of coconut milk for 24 hours first. Now, I just keep a can in the fridge.)

This cake looks dramatic and delicious “naked,” meaning not frosted on the sides. The billowy buttercream provides a contrast of color, flavor and texture in the middle of the cake and mounded on top. Although this recipe makes a wonderful cake, it doesn’t work with cupcakes.

Makes one (9-inch round) two-layer cake 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated or raw sugar 1 cup maple syrup 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (42 g) 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt
2 cups brewed coffee or warm water 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2/3 cup canola oil 2 teaspoons distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Coffee Coconut Buttercream:

1 (14-ounce) can full fat coconut milk or coconut cream (414 mL), refrigerated for 24 hours 3 cups confectioners’ sugar 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Dairy-free chocolate sprinkles or one dairy-free dark chocolate bar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil the inside of two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, maple syrup, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, coffee, vanilla, canola oil, and vinegar together until smooth. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on wire racks, then loosen the sides of the cake with a table knife and invert the cake layers onto the racks.

For the Coffee Coconut Buttercream, open one end of the coconut milk can and pour off the coconut water. (Reserve it to use in soups or drinks.) Place the solidified coconut cream in a mixing bowl. Using a hand-held mixer, beat in the confectioners’ sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla on low speed, then turn to high and whip until light and billowy.

To assemble the cake, place the flatter of the two cake layers on a cake plate. Spread with 1/3 of the frosting. Place the second layer on top and gently press down so the frosting reaches the perimeter of the bottom cake layer. Spoon and spread the remaining frosting on top. For the topping, sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles or use a vegetable peeler to make curls of dairy-free dark chocolate over the frosted cake.

Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig lives, cooks, bakes, grills and writes in Overland Park, Kan. She is the author of “Heartland: The Cookbook” and “I Love Cinnamon Rolls,” and the co-author of “The Gardener and the Grill” and the IACP award winning “The Back in the Swing Cookbook.”
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